Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Mary Story

When I decided to start this blog dedicated to the Blessed Mother, and in thanksgiving for the publication of my little book Behold Your Mother, I intended to start with one of my own Mary stories. But Our Lord never grows tired of finding ways to honor His Mother, and today I encountered a fresh story at the "Spitfire Grill."

And so, without further ado, I'd like to introduce you to Sr. Wenonah-Kareri Chapman, O.P. Before I share her story, I'd like to share a special prayer request. She writes:

"Imagine having such a miracle and taking another 54 years to complete conversion. All is in our Gracious Lord's time. I had a malignant growth removed and, today, had a bit of plastic surgery because of an infection. Sadly, it was the return of cancer, after a 4 year hiatus. I'd appreciate prayers."

Here is her story:

I was born in 1941, a 6 months baby, weighing in at 4.5 lbs. In 1941 there were no incubators, nor was there such a thing as formula. The majority of preemies died. I was also born with a congenital Central Nervous Central Disorder which precluded me ever walking. This greatly distressed my mother. FDR and his wheel-chair were in the White House and, had I been a boy this would have given her hope, but being a girl caused her great distress. Simply put, she feared that I would never marry.

When I was 3 years old, I taught myself to read. My Grandmother visited us every Wednesday and would read to me from the Bible. Well, that wasn't enough. I wanted more stories of Jesus. So, I simply taught myself to read.

Just after my 4th birthday my mother, an American Baptist, decided on something radical, more radical than anything else she would ever do. You see, she was rabidly anti-Catholic and to decide to take me to the Shrine of St. Anne Beaupré, Quebec was beyond comprehension. But, that's what she did. In a one day trip. From New Haven, Connecticut to Quebec and back in one day!

Having walked the 17 miles (carrying me) from the train station, she placed me on the steps in front of the altar and went to the back of the church. She sat there until she had no choice but to leave to catch the train back to New Haven. Tears streaming down her face, she picked me up, left the church and walked back to the train station.

Two weeks later, my brother, sister and I were all in the living room. I was on my blanket on the floor, they were on the sofa. My 17 year old brother, on leave from the Marine Corps, was reading. My 5 year old sister was playing with her doll. Well, I had asked if one of them would get a book for me--at least twice. So, I got up, walked across the room, retrieved the book I wanted and went and sat in my mother's Cricket Rocker.

Suddenly we heard my mother screaming--at my brother and sister. She wanted to know who had moved me. They both denied it.

"I did it Mommy," I calmly said. She demanded that I showed her how.

So I did. I have walked almost everyday since then. Only broken bones have slowed me down. X-Rays and neurological tests indicate that I cannot walk. I always tell the doctor "I walked in here, I'll walk out of here."

The next week I demanded that I be granted the 'right' to go to Sunday School. The next-door neighbors were nice, safe Congregationalists and they agreed to take me. No one in my family went to church, and I didn't DARE suggest the Catholic Church. Even at 4 I knew better.And, so I did. Faithfully for the next 58 years.

Sister's story reminds me of how gentle, how merciful, how generous God is with those who seek after truth. He does not turn away from the honest question of one who is willing to submit to truth, rather than demand that truth conform to their preconceived notions!
Dear Holy Mother Wisdom, pray for your dear daughter Wenonah-Kateri, who is facing a dark place in her path right now called
Cancer. Make her way bright enough to follow, and shady enough to cause her to look to the one who called Himself "the Way, the Truth, and the Life." You who can intercede with wisdom born of empathy, pray for us. In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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